If you have hip pain, you may wonder Is Sitting Or Standing Better For Hip Pain? While the exact causes of this issue should be determined by a qualified medical professional, learning what affects your condition will allow you to avoid further complications
Hip pain can have several causes and can often lead to many other health issues. Even if a person is only dealing with pain in the hip area, the quality of their life may still be affected.
Knowing what activities and situations you should avoid can do a great deal for alleviating your pain. Here we’ll take a closer look at the causes of hip pain, whether standing or sitting is making it worse and what you can do about it.
While it’s always important to have your pain medically reviewed, we hope that by the end, you’ll have a much clearer picture of your hip pain. Let’s get started!
Hip Pain – Overview
Any movement involving the hips causes several systems to engage, with bones, muscles, and joints all working in tandem. Muscles and tendons are responsible for allowing a healthy range of movements; the cushion of cartilage prevents the hips bone’s friction in its socket, while the bone itself supports the weight placed on the hips
Between each joint, a sack of fluid nourishes the entire structure and prevents damage to the bones. Any factor that leads to a lowered production of this fluid or its inability to move around makes the joints more vulnerable to wear and tear.
The hip bone joint and the surrounding tissues can withstand an immense amount of pressure. After all, this is the body’s largest joint, responsible for bearing almost as much weight and motion-related pressure as your knees do. But unfortunately, none of these structures are indestructible.
With age, their functions continuously diminish, making them strain and causing an increased sense of pain. However, certain conditions can cause these symptoms long before old age, causing the hips to hurt, and the patient desperately needing help to alleviate the condition.
Different conditions affecting the hip will cause you a feeling of discomfort in different ways, from pressure on the inside of the joint and an ache spreading outside, to intense pain radiating towards your buttocks, groin area, and thigh.
Sometimes, the cause of the pain isn’t even coming from that area. The cause may lie in your back or abdominal area, yet you feel it in your hips. In addition, a worsening condition in other areas of the body can cause you to move less, decreasing your hip’s mobility. A limp, or inability to keep the proper balance while walking, is often a result of persistent and often unaddressed hip pain. Don’t forget to notify your physio about each one of your symptoms, whether old or new, so you can get your hip pain medically treated correctly.
Hip Pain Causes
Needless to say, the reasons behind your hips being sore should be determined by a health care provider trained in this specific field of medicine. However, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some causes of hip discomfort. Combined with professional medical assistance, this can help you find quality pain relief. Here are some of the most common conditions causing hip pain:
Arthritis: Typically appearing in older individuals, arthritis leads to inflammation of the hip joint and causes the breakdown of the cartilage between the hip bones and their sockets. Apart from the gradually worsening pain, people with arthritis also feel stiffness leading to a reduced range of motion in their hip.
Fractures: As a person gets older, their bones can become weaker. Brittle bones are more likely to break during a fall. This is a more obvious issue and would need immediate medical intervention.
Bursitis: This is the inflammation of the bursae. These are the sacs of liquid found between tissues. Since their function is to alleviate friction, repetitive movements send them into overdrive, and the irritation leads to inflammation.
Tendinitis: Refers to the inflammation of tendons, which are the thick bands of tissue that connect the bones to the hip flexor muscles. Like bursitis, it’s also caused by repetitive stress from overuse.
Muscle or tendon strain: Repeated activities can strain the muscles, ligaments, and tendons supporting the hips. These tissues can also be inflamed, leading to pain and preventing the hip from having a normal range of motion.
Labral tear: This is a laceration of the labrum, which is the ring of cartilage located on the outside rim of your hip joint socket. It secures and cushions the top of your thighbone securely within the hip socket. Repetitive twisting movements may lead to the development of this problem.
Bone cancers: Tumors developing in the bones or spreading to the bone from other organs can cause pain in the hips.
Osteonecrosis: If blood flow to the hip bone slows for some reason, the bone tissue slowly begins to die. In the hips, it can be caused by dislocation, fractures, or the long-term use of steroids in high doses.
What Causes Hip Pain That Radiates Down The Leg?
The number one cause of hip pain that radiates down the leg is the inflammation of the synovial fluid sacks. When sitting for a long period, the pressure inside the hip joint becomes extremely low, and the fluid that’s supposed to nourish the joints unable to move around. Old age and certain conditions may also lead to the hip fluids’ inability to exchange nutrients, making your hip joints chafe each other, and sending pain signals down the entire leg.
Rotating the joints at a higher rate is another reason why they become damaged. If the joint between the hip bone and the head of the thighbone is worn out, this may cause the entire leg to hurt when walking. Damage or inflammation to the sciatic nerve and general neuropathy may also be the source of pain radiating from the hip area toward the legs. Some bone cancers originating from the hip area and spreading towards the thighbone can cause similar symptoms.
Hip Pain When Standing For Long Periods
Hip pain for people standing for long periods often has very similar causes to those sitting all the time. The inactivity of the joint causes the fluid levels inside to drop while standing in one place. An even more common problem those working in a standing position have is the weakening of their back and core muscles, which can also cause low back pain and other issues.
Due to this, the spine and the vertebrae aren’t supported correctly, causing them to bend in an unnatural position and start pressuring the organs and nerves around them. The compression of the sciatic is a common occurrence in these cases, and it often leads to severe and long-lasting hip pain.
Osteoarthritis and arthritis are also conditions leading to hip pain while standing. While the first one is a degenerative disease typically affecting the elderly, the latter is caused by generalized inflammation occurring in people of all ages.
In fact, people suffering from arthritis will be more likely to feel pain when standing for long periods than they would while maintaining a sitting position for the same amount of time. Standing locks the hips in a stiff position, making it easier for the inflammation to rise just as it would after strenuous activity. Pain from osteoarthritis is more common if the person starts to stand for an extended period after sitting for a long time.
What Position Is Best For Hip Pain
The answer to this question may depend on the condition causing the hip pain. Standing is considered a better position for hip pain in general, but in some cases, it may aggravate the issue. As with any position sustained for an extended period, the standing one may also cause your hips to hurt. However, it will typically cause less discomfort when sitting for a long period and then trying to move around. So, in most cases, alternating between standing and sitting is recommended to achieve the optimal pressure balance on the hips.
Standing up once in a while will also keep the muscles around the hip at full strength. This will remove the pressure from the joints and the affected area when moving around. Hold stretching poses and perform other exercises that strengthen your core will support your entire body throughout the day, allowing your hip to work less.
One of these exercises starts with lying on your back with your legs bent, a natural hip-width apart. Then using your abdominal muscles (without arching your back), you lift your buttocks in the air while keeping your feet flat on the floor. This position should be held 3-5 seconds, and the movement repeated 10 times (later in 3 sets of 10). A similar exercise can be done in the sitting position, but you must be even more careful not to arch or strain your back.
The issue gets more complicated when it comes to finding the best sleeping position for hip pain. To get a good night of sleep, your body should rest in one place for hours at a time. If this doesn’t happen, your pain worsens during the day. To prevent waking up from hip pain in the middle of the night, try sleeping on your back or on the side that doesn’t hurt. Getting a mattress that’s neither too soft nor too hard can also help avoid triggering the pressure points causing the pain.
Best Sitting Position For Hip Pain
The number one key strategy to finding the best sitting position is watching your hip angle. Generally, if your hips are bent at an angle higher than 90° while sitting, this will strain your hip joints and the surrounding tissue. While a healthy individual can withstand a larger angle for a shorter time, sustaining a forward tilted position causes the nerves and the joints to pull for everyone.
The situation is even more complicated for those suffering from conditions affecting the hip joints or the muscles and tendons around their hip and pelvis. Essentially, the only way to avoid aggravating them is to sit at a 90° angle at all times. Possible solutions could be: avoiding low chairs, tilting your seat base forward and backwards, or using a wedge cushion to achieve the optimal angle and reduce your hip pain while sitting.
However, in certain conditions, hip pain relief may be achieved by reducing the angle and compression of the joints and surrounding tissue. For example, those suffering from pain in the lower hip area radiating from the sitting bones will need to alleviate pressure from this area. For them, the optimal sitting position is the one that allows their hips to tilt slightly forwards. A pressure relief cushion used in the sitting bone area can help with this issue.
On the other hand, those feeling pain at the sides of their hips will need to sit in a tight position. Here, the goal is to exert pressure on the lower side of the hip, relieving the strain at the sides. Elevating the body from the edges of the seat also helps ease the discomfort at the sides.
Finding a bucket-type seat that allows slight elevation from time to time is the best solution for this type of hip pain. If you can only find a seat that sinks in the middle, you can use a wedge cushion or a towel in the middle of the seat to create a flat surface and alleviate the pressure from the raised edges.
Lastly, those suffering from pain around the tailbone should find a way to relieve the pressure from this area. Special cushions available with the tailbone area cut out provide the ideal solution for this issue. If this isn’t available to you, you may resort to other ways to raise the sides of your hip. For example, you can sit in a wide position, with folded towels under each of your buttocks and thighs. This will lift the tailbone away from the seat, alleviating the discomfort. It will also help you sit upright and not tilt your hips backwards.
Is Standing Better For Your Hips?
Standing can help prevent injuries and keep all your joints and muscles healthy. In some cases, standing contributes to all the elements working better together. Those working long hours in a sitting position are often recommended to stand up after every hour or so.
This way, they can stretch their tightened hip flexors, alleviating the pressure placed on your joints while sitting. Standing is the human body’s most natural position, preventing many joints and muscles from tightening. Consequently, standing at a desk instead of sitting at it will strengthen the muscles around your hips. This, in turn, helps them support your body weight and prevent strain in other positions.
Standing rather than sitting often makes it easier it go through your everyday activities, to a certain extent. Because standing in one place for extended periods may put pressure on your spine, leading to hip pain. Not to mention that if you spent most of your time in a sitting position, you probably developed a poor posture that will not do any good for your hip pain.
Does sitting make hip pain worse?
Poor posture and other seating-related mistakes often aggravate underlying conditions that cause hip pain, making the affected area hurt even more. Slouching and not having back or hip support puts unnecessary pressure on your hips.
This strain often leads to hip pain even in healthy individuals, let alone those already dealing with hip pain. With hip pain sitting on an overly soft or uneven surface often causes tilting and poor posture as well. In either case, the pressures on the hip area will not be balanced, leading to pain in the parts straining under pressure. Getting up after sitting for a long period will hurt more than it did before because the joints have weakened due to being strained all the time.
While sitting may be making your hip pain worse, it could be how you’re sitting that is the main issue. Once you resolve that problem then you may find that sitting down no longer becomes an issue for you.
Why is sitting bad for my hip joints?
Sitting for over 40 hours a week over the course of months decreases strength in all the elements of your hips. However, you will mostly feel the effects on your hip joints when you occasionally get up.
When sitting, the pressure inside your hip joint is extremely low. Plus, the fluid can’t move around in this position, which leaves the joints without enough liquid when moving, causing your hips to hurt. And while some parts of your hip won’t be under any pressure, some of it will strain even more.
All this makes the joints and the surrounding tissue more vulnerable to injuries. If you have any underlying conditions such as arthritis or bursitis, these issues may develop in weeks instead of months.
Is it better to sit or stand with hip bursitis?
If held for longer periods, both positions will put too much pressure on the hip bursa, causing even more pain. Your hip bursitis may worsen when you move or stand for too long in one position, not to mention if you sleep on the affected side.
To prevent this, you may want to alternate between sitting or standing and avoid lying on the side that hurts. You should also avoid any sudden movements involving the hips, but opt for specific hip bursitis exercises instead.